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Reddit Cofounder & Joe Montana Invest in $6m Seed Round for Stealthy iUNU

August 22, 2017

Seattle-based greenhouse software company iUNU has raised $6 million from Initialized Capital and Liquid 2 Ventures, run by Reddit-cofounder Alex Ohanian and NFL hall-of-famer Joe Montana, respectively. Second Avenue Partners and Fuel Capital also joined the round.

The round sees iUNU come out of stealth for the first time since pivoting from a plasma lighting business.

iUNU’s greenhouse software platform “Luna” uses computer vision and artificial intelligence to continuously build detailed models of plants to monitor the health and progress of flowers, leafy greens, and succulents.

“It’s about measuring the plant from the most basic level, trying to measure a multitude of variables to give us a true metabolic growth rate,” said founder and CEO Adam Greenberg.

Luna can detect growth down to the millimeter and, using multispectral photography, creates 3D models of plants to analyze and improve growing recipes — the light, water, temperature and nutrition given to any plant — with each new planting.

Greenberg, who’s father worked in floral greenhouses as a botanist, said that greenhouse recipes are rarely optimized over time. With Luna, recipes not only optimize automatically, but growers can make small adjustments and see the effect in a matter of hours.

Luna measures growth rate, color, readiness — meaning ration of flowers to buds — and space utilization in the greenhouse, but iUIU isn’t looking to replace enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

“This solution turns greenhouses into data-driven manufacturing plants. It is both a seriously practical and crucial commercial application of AI to a fundamental industry,” said Alexis Ohanian of Initialized Capital.

The hardware required is a moving camera plus sensors, which allow for high granularity 4k images and 3D models. Growers pay a subscription fee based on the size and complexity of the operation. Greenberg says that these tools are meant to “scale” each individual grower.

“We think that one of the bottlenecks is that growers can’t run around and get to as many problems as they want every day. We want to point their attention to where it is most needed,” said Greenberg.

Luna alerts the grower to problems, but it doesn’t tell them how to react. “Those are highly trained eyeballs, so we don’t want to do their job for them. We want to enable them to do their job better.”

The company has recently completed three years of testing in large-scale commercial greenhouse operations of up to 800,000 sq. ft. and the artificial intelligence element of Luna will take that learning and adapt to each individual space over time, with growers owning their own data.

Greenhouse growers have a particular term for the roughly 20% of their crop that is thrown out on average: “scrap and dump.” According to Greenberg, scrap refers to when crops die and dump refers to when they become overripe in the greenhouse. He is looking to reverse that trend by increasing the capacity of each grower to monitor large commercial operations.

Founded in 2013, iUNU has offices in San Francisco and San Diego along with its Seattle headquarters.

In a past iteration of the company, iUNU sold plasma lighting to indoor farming operations. In 2014 the company received a $50,000 investment from Village Capital’s Agtech Accelerator program

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